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Stanley Cup Final

Predators must contain Penguins' top forwards in Game 6 of Cup Final

Nashville has to defend Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel to extend series

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators know they will have to do a better job against the Pittsburgh Penguins' top forwards in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final if they hope to win and force a deciding game. 

They can't afford a repeat of Game 5, when center Sidney Crosby, center Evgeni Malkin and forward Phil Kessel led the way offensively in Pittsburgh's 6-0 win. Those three combined for eight points (two goals, six assists), and Kessel scored his first goal of the series. Malkin and Kessel each scored on the rush, something the Predators must defend better as a group at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and would win their second consecutive Cup title with a victory.

 

[RELATED: Penguins focused on Game 6 with Cup in sight | Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

 

"You want to take care of the puck and have layers above the puck because when those guys get 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, they make plays and it's hard to defend," Predators forward Colton Sissons said. "It's not just on our defense or it's not just on a single guy; we have to do it by committee because that what it takes against the talent they have."

Nashville has been able to limit the effectiveness of Crosby, Malkin and Kessel on the rush at times during the series. The Predators are aware of the challenge Pittsburgh's speed represents, and they're confident they'll respond better than they did in Game 5.

"I think it's their whole team, it's good," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "We've known that for a long time and we've known this series is going to be a challenge with their top forwards. I think we've done a good job. It just seems to be like every second game they're talking about how good we've played defense and then the other game they talk about how good they are as an offense, and that's just going to be.

"It's world-class players. We can't just shut them down game after game. There's going to be times where you've got to say they did a good play or they did something good, but on Sunday we're going to have great defense again."

The Predators are returning home, where they are 9-1 and have outscored the Penguins 9-2 at home in the series.

"Lots of ups and downs in the playoffs," forward Colin Wilson said. "I think you have to take it and certainly sit with it for a little bit and realize what you did wrong for the game to go the way that it did [in Game 5]. But coming in, you have to realize that the sun came up today. I think you do the same in the regular season. It's a tough spot, but we're playing in June right now. Life's good.

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